All I could think was, “Pinch me… I can’t believe I finally got myself away from my computer and back into spectacular vineyards, where I feel great peace.”
In Wine Country is a weekly series airing on NBC stations, that brings the unique wine country lifestyle home to their viewers.
Ann is a San Francisco based Impressionist, whose oil on canvas renditions send chills down my spine with their vibrantly colorful expressions. Wineries work in partnership with her through a very innovative program, that allows her partners to leverage their greatest asset… their vineyards. Once an oil has been created, the wine companies then have products to sell in their tasting rooms with their own property being the featured art work. This allows visitors from afar to bring home a visual reminder of their time in wine country at that particular winery.
I haven’t been to Kunde in ages, with my last visit being a day I was gathering information for a story that I was writing about Wine Country Wedding locations. Kunde now has three locations on their property where lucky brides and grooms can exchange their vows.
Marcia Kunde Mickelson and Ann greeted my partner Jose and me when we arrived. They had been to lunch with the camera crew, and were getting ready to go back up to the vineyard location, where Ann was going paint and the crew would continue filming.
What I didn’t know, but now I do thanks to Marsha, is that about 75 percent of “Bottle Shock” was filmed at Kunde… All those sweeping vineyards in the intro? Kunde’s estate. Now I’ve got to watch the movie. I can’t believe that I haven’t already, but when you’re living it, it’s easy to let the outside stories about the inside dramas just slip right on by… At least it has been for me.
When Ann Rea works with her partners, she arrives in a vineyard, finds where she receives the greatest inspiration, and goes to work capturing the essence of a winery’s soul amid the vines. No one’s allowed to tell her what and/or where to paint. This independence, from anyone else’s perception of the best location, allows Ann to find what others perhaps don’t recognize as that “money shot…” for which photographers and artists dream. Ann takes her time, walks the property, and experiences that “Aha!” moment, that becomes her next oil on canvas masterpiece. It’s always there, and she just intuitively knows where and how to find it.
During the photo shoot for Ann’s “In Wine Country” segment (which will air in about six to nine months), I was able to photograph the photographer, producer, and Ann, as they filmed the program. Quietly, I was able to move around and click through the painting’s evolution, as the producer and Ann discussed the process, and what makes for this great experience. Ann talked about how most of her job is quietly done in nature… out of doors, for which there is great solitude and further inspiration.
Birds invitingly chirped spring’s arrival, cars below hummed along Route 12 in a quiet drone, and an occasional airplane would pass overhead, stopping all filming until it left earshot of the filming site.
All was beautiful on that low-elevation mountainside. While we weren’t up that high, the views were still amazing. Mustard was heavily dotting one vineyard below.
Bud break showed signs of just bursting in this year’s explosion of life. Did you know – I learned this in my viticulture class – that within that bud you see, if taken under a microscope, you can view the next season’s entire cane, clusters, etc.? I find this absolutely amazing.
The Kunde’s cattle were slowly moving toward their small pond for an afternoon drink of water on the eastern side of their vineyard property.
A group of horseback riders moved quietly along a back trail below, also to the east, even further away from the roadway.
The hauntingly lonely boxing ring that was part of “Bottle Shock” stood quietly reflective of a movie I must now rent.
The film crew and producer kept the camera rolling and captured the view that Ann Rea was putting onto the canvas, while I was putting the entire experience into my soul.
A day shared with Ann Rea and Marcia Kunde Mickelson on Kunde’s vineyard property reminded me that whenever I’m feeling work fatigue (this was a Friday), all I have to do is get myself back into a vineyard somewhere. It’s always in a vineyard that I’m reminded of why I choose to live in CA.